What Is It and What Is It For?

A foramenotomy, or foraminotomy, is a spinal surgery procedure which is often performed for foraminal stenosis. Foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of a foramen, the hole that spinal nerves pass through as they exit the spine. It generally occurs as a part of degenerative spine disease. This narrowing can lead to neurological symptoms as the nerve gets pinched, often causing numbness, tingling, pain and/or muscle weakness in the distribution of that nerve.

Foraminotomy aims to improve the symptoms from foraminal stenosis by relieving the compression on the nerve. Basically, the bone and soft tissue overlying the foramen and causing compression is removed. This opens the foramen so that the nerve within has more room.

This procedure can be performed both for cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) foraminal stenosis. While foraminotomy is sometimes done alone, it can often be a part of a larger spine procedure which addresses several problems, such as herniated disc or spinal stenosis. It can be done as a part of an open surgical procedure or through a small incision and what is considered minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Success rates, potential complications and recovery time all vary considerably depending on the specifics of each case.

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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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